How childhood trauma secretly breeds narcissists
If we want to understand the psyche of a narcissist, we have to get to the root, which is often a troubled childhood and dysfunctional upbringing. In this article, we attempt to make the connection between narcissism and childhood abuse and explore how childhood trauma creates narcissists.
The word narcissist is becoming a buzzword in our individualistic modern society. But is narcissism just self-centered, or do we need to take a closer look at the traits of narcissists to fully appreciate the extent of the pain narcissism causes others?
While much work remains to be done in this area, it is a widely accepted fact that genetic factors, home environment, and relationship dynamics within a family strongly influence a child’s overall personality development. Of course, as with any other psychological problem, the formative years of childhood also play an important role in narcissistic personality disorder.
What is narcissism?
Before we delve further into how childhood trauma creates narcissists, we should be clear about the definition and characteristics of a narcissistic personality.
Mental health professionals define narcissism as a continuous behavioral pattern of grandiosity with a constant need for admiration and a woefully lacking sense of empathy, or the ability to sense the feelings of others.
Some other characteristics of a narcissistic personality:
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- The dream of always being treated as something special
- Covert narcissists portray themselves as shy and ineffective, but secretly fantasize about their inflated self-esteem.
How do narcissists develop as a result of childhood trauma?
Now let’s look at how dysfunctional upbringing and childhood trauma create narcissistic personalities.
1. Recording Narcissistic Abuse
In a family where a child is narcissistically abused by one or more parents , they develop narcissistic tendencies as a defensive reaction to excessive criticism, physical or emotional abuse, or neglect. Narcissism arises from the emotional hurts of shame, hurt, deprivation, and loss. The child becomes embittered with all the trauma it experiences at such a tender age.
2. Pain that comes across as self-centered
A narcissistic parent shows no empathy for their child and shows no regard for their feelings, fears, or needs. As a result, the child is made responsible for his own happiness and well-being from a very early age. This can lead to self-centeredness, and as the child ages, it tends to become more and more self-centered with little or no consideration for others. As adults, they may feel that their problems are much bigger and more important than anyone else’s.
3. External Validation
When someone grows up in a dysfunctional family, where the home environment depends on the ever-changing mood of the caring parent, the need to appease others becomes internalized by the growing child. The child’s needs, dreams, and authentic self are never recognized or valued in the family. Instead, the vulnerable child learns that if they are to remain safe and whole, they must earn the approval and validation of adults. In this disturbing dynamic, the child becomes responsible for the emotional needs of the parent.
As a result, even when the child grows up, it carries around the ballast of external validation. Your whole life revolves around getting praise and admiration from the world.
4. Victim Identity
When a child is repeatedly abused and neglected, a sense of victimhood develops in their memory. This can lead to them growing up with a lot of resentment toward others. While it is true that they were indeed victims as children, as adults they find it difficult to break out of this victim mentality and own up to their mistakes.
Adult children with narcissistic tendencies therefore always resort to either martyrdom or blaming others when things go wrong in their lives, and fail to see their own shortcomings.
5. Sensitivity to criticism
Classical narcissists have overdeveloped egos that prevent them from confronting any opinion that disrupts their pretended self-image of superiority. Growing up with a barrage of disparaging comments makes them too fragile to handle even the most constructive criticism or negative feedback.
6. Unequal relationships
In a toxic household, a child sometimes witnesses an unequal dynamic between parents, where one is always inferior and even abused. In families where this kind of blatant disregard for personal space and safety is normal, the younger members grow up with a completely misguided notion of equality in relationships. As a long-lasting consequence, adult children from dysfunctional families seek partners who always meet their narcissistic demands.
Sometimes the apple falls far from the tree
Childhood trauma is thus both the cause and effect of a narcissistic personality. While a child who does not experience unconditional love, care, and nurturing while growing up may display traits of a narcissist, this is not always the case. Not every child born to narcissistic parents will grow up to be one. Healthy and positive coping mechanisms and a good dose of self-confidence can make all the difference.
Childhood trauma breeds narcissists, but there are several ways an adult child of narcissistic parents can help you and grow out of their toxic tendencies.
frequently asked Questions
Can childhood trauma affect adulthood?
Yes, childhood trauma can leave long-lasting psychological effects that manifest into adulthood and can affect various aspects of our lives.
What childhood trauma makes a narcissist?
Childhood traumas such as neglect, witnessing violence, physical, mental abuse etc. can induce narcissistic tendencies in a person.
Do childhood traumas cause personality disorders in adults?
Childhood trauma can cause some serious negative psychological disorders in adults.
How does childhood trauma affect adulthood?
When a child is repeatedly exposed to traumatic experiences, their self-esteem is affected and they develop trust issues. In adulthood, they can develop poor self-image and have trouble maintaining healthy boundaries.
Can childhood trauma cause narcissism?
In some cases, childhood trauma can be blamed for the development of narcissistic traits in adulthood.